Weird History The 12 Most Horrifying Ways Terrorists Have Poisoned Food Throughout History  

Jacob Shelton
1.6k views 12 items

One of the main goals of domestic and foreign terrorism is to cause as much panic as possible. Groups from all over the world have found that one of the easiest ways to spread havoc is to inform a city, state, or nation that they have a poisoned food supply. Historically, terrorists have poisoned food using everything from cyanide to ricin. Many terrorists actually find that it’s much easier to insist that they’ve poisoned something rather than to actually go through with the work of breaking into a food containment unit and run the risk of getting caught. Both methods inspire the same amount of fear, and they can both be just as deadly.

Claims of ISIS poisoning food have come up periodically, but the stories around these claims aren't always widely publicized. Most of the time it’s because investigators want to keep any information they have close to their vest because they don’t want to inspire unfounded panic. The following stories create a worldwide anthology of terrorists of all shapes and sizes poisoning or attempting to poison people with a variety of methods.

Of course, if you think you’re being poisoned, there are plenty of remedies to make sure you live to eat another salad bar — unless of course you’ve encountered a killer who knows their way around a jug of cyanide. Hopefully you won't ever need to use this arsenal of knowledge and history, but in the case that you find yourself in a terrorist food poisoning scenario, you'll be prepared.

Greek Eco-Terrorists Injected ... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The 12 Most Horrifying Ways Terrorists Have Poisoned Food Throughout History
Photo:  W. Oelen/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Greek Eco-Terrorists Injected Hydrochloric Acid Into Grocery Store Items


Just before Christmas in 2017, a group of Greek eco-anarchists called the Blackgreen Arsonists claimed to have injected hydrochloric acid into a series of popular grocery store items. In the group's press release about the event, the BA showed photographic evidence that they'd injected acid into Coca-Cola, meat rolls, and milk cartons before threatening to put the items back on supermarket shelves just in time for Christmas dinner. Grocery stores in Greece were forced to empty their shelves rather than run the risk of selling contaminated products. Along with the photos, the terrorists released a statement saying,

"These days, thousands and thousands of Christians will leave their couch to make the necessary shopping for their Christmas tables, to fill their empty lives with consumable rubbish covered in beautiful, glittering wrapping. The victims of this feast are the millions of living creatures that are slaughtered to arrive at the tables of the living, drained to the last drop of blood to satisfy their palates.”

Osho's Followers Poisoned ... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The 12 Most Horrifying Ways Terrorists Have Poisoned Food Throughout History
Photo: mack reed (factoid)/flickr/CC-BY-ND 2.0

Osho's Followers Poisoned Salad Bars In Oregon


The Dalles is the largest city in Wasco County, Oregon, and Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (also known as "Osho") wanted political control over the area. Osho's teachings were a hodgepodge of neo-spiritualism and Randian Objectivism. He was also obsessed with breeding out the "defects" of the human race. If his followers had succeeded in their plan to poison the population of Wasco County — in an attempt to keep them from voting in local elections — Osho may very well have been able to build a cult stronghold in the area. 

In 1984, the followers of Osho tried to win two out of three seats on the Wasco County Circuit Court, and oust the then-sheriff by bussing in homeless people to vote in the county election. When that didn't work, the cult decided to poison everyone in the area so the citizens would be forced to stay home in bed rather than vote. The followers of Osho spread salmonella on produce in grocery stores, on doorknobs, and urinal handles in the county courthouse. When that didn't work they contaminated 10 salad bars in the area which caused 751 people to fall ill

After the attacks, Osho fled Oregon but was arrested in North Carolina and deported after making a plea bargain. According to the FBI this is the only known agroterrorism attack to occur in the US to this date. 

An Unknown Assailant Poisoned ... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The 12 Most Horrifying Ways Terrorists Have Poisoned Food Throughout History
Photo: tjstaab/flickr/CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

An Unknown Assailant Poisoned Glico Moringa Products With Cyanide


What began as a simple extortion case in 1980s Japan quickly turned into mass panic after a kidnapping plan turned upside down. In 1984 two kidnappers took Katsuhisa Ezaki, the president of Glico, from his home in the middle of the night while his family cowered in their bedrooms. The duo attempted to ransom Ezaki off for one billion yen and 100 kilograms in gold bullion but Ezaki managed to escape. This didn't deter the kidnappers, who soon began to send taunting letters to the police and to Ezaki. 

Referring to themselves as "The Monster with 21 Faces" the duo claimed that they'd laced all of Glico's candies (Pocky, Glico, Pretz, etc.) with cyanide, causing the company to pull all of its products from their distributors. Despite having a small group of suspects in the case no one was ever arrested and the statute of limitations on all of the crimes ran out in 2000. 

The Arab Revolutionary Army In... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The 12 Most Horrifying Ways Terrorists Have Poisoned Food Throughout History
Photo: etcher67/flickr/CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Arab Revolutionary Army Injected Mercury Into Oranges


In 1978, in an effort to cause major havoc, Palestinian terrorists calling themselves the "Arab Revolutionary Army" injected mercury into oranges that originated in Israel. This orange poisoning happened at the beginning of the Lebanese Civil War while Israel was attempting to level the then-Palestinian stronghold. The oranges managed to poison multiple people from the Netherlands and West Germany. Specifically, five Dutch children were sent to the hospital with mercury poisoning but, luckily, they all survived. 

A few days after the hospitalizations, the Arab Revolutionary Army released a press statement to 18 nations saying, "It is not our aim to kill the population, but to sabotage the Israel economy which is based on suppression, racial discrimination and colonial occupation."